Tournament organizers will also have to use Valve’s Ranking System for invites or host open qualifiers for their events.

The publisher in esports holds all the cards and a single decision can often alter the course of a title’s esports scene. In a statement that will upset the status quo, Valve has announced new rules for large-scale Counter-Strike esports tournaments starting 2025.

Valve takes a stand to maintain Counter-Strike’s open esports’ ecosystem

Over the past few years, we’ve seen professional Counter-Strike drift away from that ideal. The ecosystem has become gradually less open, with access to the highest levels of competition increasingly gated by business relationships.

Counter-Strike has always featured an open ecosystem. This means players and much smaller teams can compete and thrive limited only by their skill levels.

However, in the past few years, Tournament organizers and teams have come together to create a semi-closed ecosystem. Some of the biggest events have TOs in partnership with a select few teams that feature predominantly in these events. 

As such Valve has outlined certain requirements for TOs to host large-scale events from 2025. 

  • Tournament organizers will no longer have unique business relationships or other conflicts of interest with teams that participate in their events.
  • Invitations to all tournaments will use our ranking system (detailed here), or otherwise be determined by open qualifiers.
  • Any compensation for participating teams—prize pool or otherwise—will be made public and will be driven by objective criteria that can be inspected by the community.

How does this affect CS esports?

The announcement is very significant since it prohibits business relationships between tournament organizers and participating teams.

Furthermore, Valve has also enforced its ranking system on all tournaments going forward. Currently, both BLAST and the ESL-FaceIT group have their own ranking system. The TOs use their ranking systems while determining invites. 

Going forward, Tournament organizers will need to use Valve’s rankings or host open qualifiers for their events.